Week 8 Recap: Caps Lose Key Player

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Posted March 8, 2021

Tom Wilson was suspended for seven games. (Caps Outsider)

Following a week of three straight victories which lifted them East division, the Caps, despite falling to second behind the Islanders, continued to collect points by winning 2 of their 3 games this week.

Washington began the week by traveling to Boston on Wednesday to fight the Bruins in what was a spirited and tightly-contested bout. In a game with limited chances and well over 50 combined hits, it was the play by the depth scorers on the Caps who gave them an eventual positive result. Entering the third period tied 0-0, Boston’s lethal scorer David Pastrnak finished off an odd-man rush to give the Bruins the edge, but just minutes later it was the hard work of Lars Eller who evened the score. In tight on B’s goalie Tuuka Rask, Eller jammed home a rebound which would end up being the goal to send the game into an extra period. After a scoreless overtime, three straight stops from Vitek Vanecek and a slick goal from Jakub Vrana gave the Capitals the hard-earned victory.

A rematch against the Bruins on Friday though did not hold the same fate for Washington. In one of the worst looking games for the Caps all season, the 5-1 defeat might not have even been the biggest loss of the night. During the first period, Tom Wilson, who has been known for some questionable hits in the past, checked Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo, whose head collided hard into the boards. Carlo was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and is currently week-to-week. Despite no penalty given on the play, Wilson was later suspended for seven games by the NHL. This is Wilson’s fifth career suspension.

Down 1-0 after the opening frame, the Capitals could never find their game against a determined Bruins team that was clearly fighting for their injured teammate.  While down 5-0 late in the third, Nicklas Backstrom reached a milestone on a Vrana goal by recording his 700th career assist. Only 53 other players in league history have accomplished this outstanding feat.

Following the embarrassing defeat, Peter Laviolette’s crew needed to bounce back in a big way on Sunday night against the Flyers, and that they did. Backstopped by a 36 save performance by Ilya Samsonov, Washington erased an early deficit and score three unanswered goals. Alex Ovechkin got back on the goal-scoring sheet with his 714th career goal putting him only four goals shy of eclipsing Phil Esposito for the sixth most goals in NHL history. Nick Jensen also tallied his first goal as a Capital in the third period to put the game out of reach.

The Capitals will look to ride this momentum into next week as they face the last place Sabres, first place Islanders, and then play a back to back against the Rangers to close the week.

Congratulations to Nicklas Backstrom for 700 Career Assists!